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New Private Home Sales Plunge 78.7% Year-on-Year in May Amid Market Slump

In May, new private home sales hit a significant low, marking the smallest sales figures for this month since records began in June 2007. The numbers also show a nearly 80% drop compared to the same time last year.

No major projects were launched last month, exacerbating the usual mid-year lull and the recent trend of declining sales.

According to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released on June 18, developers sold 221 condo units in May, a sharp decline from the 1,039 units sold in May last year. This figure, which excludes executive condominiums (ECs), is also 26.6% less than the 301 units sold in April.

May’s sales were the lowest in three months and the weakest for any May since 2008 when 453 units were sold, noted Christine Sun, chief researcher and strategist at OrangeTee Group.

Including ECs, 261 units were sold in May, with 248 units launched, compared to 1,056 units sold and 1,595 units launched in May 2023. In April 2024, 352 units were sold and 278 units were launched.

Tricia Song, CBRE’s research head for Singapore and Southeast Asia, highlighted that last May’s sales were boosted by the launches of The Continuum in District 15 and The Reserve Residences in District 21, which together offered over 1,500 units. This year, there were no comparable project launches in the more affordable suburbs and city fringe areas, added Sun.

Nicholas Mak, chief research officer at Mogul.sg, pointed out that apart from the school holiday lull, primary market sales have significantly slowed. Over the past decade, developers have averaged 8,853 private housing unit sales per year, or 738 units per month. However, only 1,697 units have been sold in the first five months of 2024, far below the average annual sales.

As a result, several analysts have revised their sales forecasts for the year. Knight Frank initially projected primary sales between 7,000 and 9,000 units in 2024, but now expects fewer than 7,000 units to be sold. CBRE adjusted its forecast to 5,500 to 6,500 units, down from 7,000 to 8,000 units. Consequently, Song from CBRE noted that private residential prices, which rose 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, might increase at a slower pace for the rest of the year.

Mak suggested that primary market sales could drop to levels seen during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis when only 6,096 new units were sold in a year. Volume is likely to stay low until mortgage rates decrease or if the government eases some cooling measures, noted Leonard Tay, Knight Frank Singapore’s research head.

Despite the sales slump, CBRE’s Song expects prices to grow by 3% to 4% in 2024, given resilient household balance sheets and low unsold inventory. However, a recovery in developer sales is not anticipated until 2025.

In May, two small projects were launched: Jansen House in District 19 with 21 units and Straits at Joo Chiat in District 15 with 16 units. Jansen House sold three units at a median price of S$2,098 psf, while Straits at Joo Chiat sold two units at a median price of S$2,091 psf.

One notable sale was a unit at the 99-year leasehold Skywaters Residence, sold to a foreign buyer for S$47.3 million or S$6,100 psf, resulting in S$28.4 million in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty. This Shenton Way project has yet to be publicly launched and was marketed to selected clients.

In total, 248 units were launched for sale in May, just 15.5% of the 1,595 units launched in May 2023, and slightly lower than the 278 units launched in April 2024.

URA data showed that among the three market segments, the suburban Outside Central Region (OCR) led condo and private apartment sales, making up 63.8% of May sales. This was followed by the Rest of Central Region (RCR) with around 30% of sales, and the prime Core Central Region (CCR) with 12.2%.

All the top 10 best-performing projects in May were from existing projects mainly in the OCR and RCR, indicating that buyers are highly price-sensitive amid economic uncertainty and high mortgage rates, said CBRE’s Song.

The best-selling project for May was the 99-year leasehold Lentor Hills Residence in District 26, with 25 units sold at a median price of S$2,164 psf. The Lentor area saw the highest number of sales with 69 transactions last month, according to Lee Sze Teck, Huttons Asia’s senior director of data analytics.

Analysts predict a slight pickup in sales in the second half of the year as more major projects come to market. These include larger developments such as Emerald of Katong in District 15 and The Chuan Park in District 19, both with over 800 to 900 units, noted Mohan Sandrasegeran, SRI head of research and data analytics.

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